The Orioles scrapped a two-year, $15 million pact with free agent right-hander Grant Balfour after a pre-signing physical revealed some previously-undiscovered issues in the reliever’s wrist and knee.
But Balfour shouldn’t be out of work much longer.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the 36-year-old native of Sydney, Australia is now drawing interest from the Nationals, who could be looking to trade Drew Storen in the coming weeks.
Rafael Soriano is expected to serve as Washington’s closer in 2014 and Tyler Clippard will be the setup man. Balfour would slide into the seventh-inning role if Storen, whose price is rising in arbitration, is moved.
Balfour posted an outstanding 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings over his final two seasons (2012-2013) with the Oakland A’s. He also saved 62 games in 67 attempts.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.